January 2008

First Saul Klein, now Walt Baczkowski at Point2

by THE WAV GROUP on January 31, 2008

Today’s announcement by Point2 Technologies may be a signal of what is to come next under the new leadership at Point2. Saul Klein is well known through his efforts in delivering agent products and services under the e-Pro program and via REAL TOWN. Now with Walt Baczkowski on board (pun intended), I would suspect that Point2 will begin to roll out a plan to deliver thier products and services to agents through MLS and REALTOR Associations agreements Walt Baczkowski is a popular and well known industry executive, having held CEO and EO positions across the country. Regardless of any change in strategic direction by Point2, the company and products will benefit from Walt’s experience and guidance in delivering products and services to agents.  

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Lucy, you got some splaining to do!

by THE WAV GROUP on January 30, 2008

As a student of philosophy I often found value in considering the extremes of an issue before trying to understand the balance. An article published this week in The New York Times gave an extreme example of an International real estate market that provides valuable consideration of where we are today in our real estate market. In Havana, Cuba, 100% of the real property is owned by the socialist state.  Hence, in theory, there is no real estate economic market, right?  Seriously, if you need a house, the government provides you one.  Simple. Add the human element and then what happens. All housing cannot be equal in the eyes of humans. No housing can be maintained and built equally. No housing can be equally distributed without favored locations. In Havana, many homes have leaking roofs, no running water, no private toilets.  Citizens there put their name on the list and wait, and wait. The government has a process for regulating housing swaps, but it is broken.  Understanding that this failed system cannot stop people, they have legislated that any effort to serve as an agent, or trade homes independent of the government system is illegal. As a result, there is a huge black market housing industry full of corruption and scams. People make money from housing swaps.  According to the New York Times article, every Cuban is plotting to upgrade residences or knows someone who is.  Although this claim is not scientific, it is believable and probably true. Are things so very different here in the United States, or for that matter, anywhere on the planet where people live?  Is it not true that even in the transient tribes of the American Indians, the quality of the teepee and location in temporary village was indicative of social standing? Housing is fundamental to our very nature. The Cuban MLS is agent owned.  On the popular El Prado street, illegal agents sit on stone benches trying to make deals (or swindle hopeful families with empty promises). What insight does this offer us in tour real estate market? There is a necessary balance that needs to be mitigated between Governance and the Black Market.  Without rules and regulations, consumers fall victim to the disorganized chaos of unscrupulous agents.  With too many rules and regulations, disorganized chaos is inspired. It is probable and believable that the mortgage crisis we face today is a result […]

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C.A.R. announces partnership with Terradatum

by THE WAV GROUP on January 25, 2008

ClarisResources.com – Valuable tools for providing real estate market logic to consumers During the California Association of REALTORS meetings this week, Real Estate Business Services, Inc. (REBS) announced a partnership with Terradatum to offer two terrific new services for agents to help them better serve the information needs of their clients. “Consumers are exposed to constant housing market chatter, and these tools provide meaningful information, specific and relevant to the consumer’s situation,” said REBS Chairman of the Board Gary Thomas. “Clarus REsourceTM enhances the position of REALTORS® as trusted, skilled advisors by providing them with tools to easily interpret raw data.” The first, ClarusTM Market Metrics, is a series of detailed reports agents can use in client presentations. Any real estate professional with an MLS membership can purchase the reports, which provide quantitative data for establishing market-appropriate listing and offer prices. ClarusTM Market Metrics provides the REALTOR® with a set of six reports and one easy-to-understand translation of what the data set means that can be customized with the REALTOR®’s name and logo. ClarusTM Investor, available April 1, is a property analysis tool that allows REALTORS® to help buyers who want to invest in real estate to obtain a quick picture of the property’s value and profit potential.  It also is available in combination with a basic training package to help REALTORS® become more comfortable discussing real estate investment options with their existing client base. The ClarusTM products are being provided through a partnership with Terradatum, a leading provider of insightful, yet easy to understand real estate information. To learn more about the products you can visit their site here. In our work around the country WAV Group is hearing an ever-increasing need from MLS subscribers to provide better information to their clients. Agents who are working with clients who are close to making a purchase, but are afraid the market trends are working against them really their agent to provide them with logical, easy to understand statistics to give them the confidende this is the right time to buy. For agents who would like to build relationships with their clients by providing objective and well-researched information, WAV Group believes these tools will be invaluable. Terradatum is a terrific statistics and research company and they will serve the needs of C.A.R. members well.

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Make MLS Listings work harder

by THE WAV GROUP on January 24, 2008

One Simple Method for Improving MLS Listing Data Accuracy For many MLSs around the country, missing photos consistently rank as one of the most prevalent problems with MLS listings. Not only does it create the potential for a subscriber to receive a fine, it significantly limits the ability to market a property. Now that digital cameras are included in just about every cell phone and digital cameras cost as little as $29.95, it does seem like the time has come for all MLSs to require a photo before the listing can go live. In a soon to be released study conducted about MLS Public Websites, WAV Group found that consumers get extremely frustrated when a listing does not have a photo. In fact, one respondent said: “I don’t know why an agent should be allowed to put a listing on a website without a photo. I will never click on a listing unless it has not only one, but multiple photos for me to view” Kudos to Mid-Florida Regional MLS in Orlando, Florida who is instituting a policy which will not allow a listing to go live until it has a photo included. Their previous policy allowed up to 7 business days for a listing agent to upload a photo. This is just a small part of MFRMLS’s aggressive effort to improve data accuracy. They installed data quality control software and have seen significant improvement in data quality in just a few short months. If your organization would like to investigate data quality control software, check out iCheck from iMapp, Marketlinx Data Checker from Marketlinx and Stewart’s Listing Checker.  

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Smartphones in Real Estate Off The Charts

by THE WAV GROUP on January 23, 2008

Smartphones in Real Estate Off The Charts Smartphones are becoming extremely popular, especially now that AT&T, the largest mobile phone service provider in the United States is heavily promoting $99 smartphones.  Growth of the smartphone market is being driven by adoption of BlackBerry and other brands, but NOT by phones with the Palm operating system. The market is projected to have 30% compounded annual growth for the next five years. According to In-Stat, a leading technology company identified the following: All Smartphone OSs (other than the Palm OS) will grow at double digits over the next five years. A smartphone user that travels has twice the ARPU (average revenue per user) of a typical feature phone user because most users get email and other services on their phone in addition to traditional phone service. Smartphone use will grow mostly from use as a laptop replacement, and as a tool to help manufacturers develop feature phones. REALTORS® are also aggressively adopting the technology. According to NAR’s 2007 Realtor Technology Survey, 58% of REALTORS® are projected to own a smartphone within 12 months. WAV Group recently published a survey about smartphones called the 2007 WAV Group Smartphone Satisfaction Survey which help identify why REALTORS® are adopting this technology so aggressively.  Many believe smartphones are a key tool in their arsenal for success. They believe it helps them be more professional and importantly more responsive to their customers. If you would like a hard copy of the study, you can contact WAV Group at marilyn@wavgroup.com and we’ll be happy to send you one.

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What Happens When You Turn Off Your Blog

by THE WAV GROUP on January 23, 2008

One of my favorite jokes goes something like this. What happens when you play a country music song backwards? Your wife moves back in, your dog is revived, you get a new truck.. I had a very interesting conversation last night with Bill French, one of the brightest minds in the world of Blogging.  We discussed what happens when someone turns off a blog that they have had for a year or two with weekly posting. His answer was shocking One customer who recently truned off thier blog and replaced it with nothing removed 93% of the content from thier website. Aside from 93% being a very large number, think of it in terms of click-throughs.  Monthly traffic from click-throughs was more than 20,000.  Not only are 20,000 people a month not getting the valuable inforamtion they need, the company lost about $20,000 in value (google price per click at $1 on average). Blog Laws If you start blogging, don’t stop until you measure the impact first. If you switch blog companies, make sure you copy the xml file of your blog.  

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Plain Language Real Estate Search

by THE WAV GROUP on January 21, 2008

It’s time for Plain Language in Real Estate Property Search I was reminiscing this weekend about the fun of my childhood which largely centered on Western New York lakes and lake cottages.  It inspired to do some research around Buffalo and neighboring waterfront areas on the Canadian shores as well.  I know the area pretty well, but I was not sure of waterfront home values so I began to do a web search. After completing the process, it reminded me again that property search still has a long way to go.  When I typed in “waterfront homes for sale in Wilson, New York”, for example, I found nothing of the sort. I was sent to homes for sale in Wilson, New York at homes.com, only one of which was a waterfront home.  When I tried “waterfront homes for sale in Wilson, New York”, I also received search results for waterfront homes in Lake Norman, North Carolina, Wilson Pond in New Hampshire and Alabama Real Estate. One of the search results took me to a local REALTOR’S® site who claims to be expert in waterfront homes in Wilson, New York. The link took me to their home page, not to a featured waterfront listing in Wilson, New York which is what I was looking for. The site included no listings at all which very little mention of waterfront homes in the region.  Several of the other search results took me to agents focused on waterfront property in other regions around the country. Other times the search results took me advertising portals like homes.com or riverhomesusa.com.  While these search results would usually return at least one home which could be considered waterfront, other non-waterfront homes were also included. It’s time for online property search to go to the next level. Searches need to be built around the needs of consumers, not technology. As consumers begin to learn that they can type in specific, plain language requests for information, property search needs to evolve to allow them to find exactly what they are looking for. They may be looking for a neighborhood with young children in it. They may want to find towns where you can walk their baby to town for a daily stroll.  They may even want to look for a neighborhood with a terrific natural foods store or even a particular brand like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Sites which […]

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Lather, Rinse, Repeat – the secret to clean hair and real estate success I attended the Inman Connect conference in New York last week. I attended several of the sessions and spoke on a panel about productivity tools. Throughout the couple of days, I got the distinct impression that many of the agents were there to get “the secret” about how to survive and thrive in a down market.  In my session on productivity tools, for example, I was asked the question, “What are the three tools that you would recommend to help me grow my business?” While there were a lot of terrific technologies in attendance that can help agents, I think there is a more fundamental answer to the question. REALTORS®  need to fundamentally change their mindset about their clients. They need to be truly committed to responding to their clients in real-time.  Gone are the days when an agent can check their email once a day or check their voice mail when they get a chance.  Consumers now demand instant responses to answers. They know that if you carry a BlackBerry you are going to be receiving their email instantly so they expect you to respond. If they reach out to you via your website, they expect you to contact them immediately, not in 24, 48 or 72 hours. By then, they may have visited 5 more competitive websites or worse yet, found a home they like on their own. A top producing State Farm Life Insurance Agent also gets asked often “What is your secret to success?”  He says the answer to the question is on the back of a shampoo bottle.  “Lather, Rinse, Repeat.”  Like insurance sales, the real estate sales process is not that complicated. If you follow the disciplines of any great salesperson you can succeed. Lather up your business by building an ever-expanding list of qualified leads and then make them feel so comfortable with you that they work with you to buy or sell their home. Rinse them off and move them down the sales funnel by continuing to provide them with information and guidance while they get ready to buy or sell.  Then, repeat. Build satisfied customers and continue to maintain relationships with them even after you sell them a home. Sure, there are a lot of terrific technologies that can help automate the Lather, Rinse and Repeat sales process, […]

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